• 26 February 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Events in DC, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, US-Iran War

woolseyRep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), always a friend to her sizable Iranian-American constituency,  delivered the following speech yesterday on the floor of the House of Representatives.

At first glance, it might appear that Rep. Woolsey is uncharacteristically harsh when talking about how to deal with Iran.  But I read this as a sign that the strongest supporters of direct diplomacy are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness.  There is a lot riding on our outreach to Iran.  And now that it is no longer a question of if we talk to Iran but when we talk, we need to make sure we do it right.  It is because of members of Congress like Rep. Woolsey that the threat of war has abated, now we have the responsibility to make sure the diplomatic approach we supported so strongly can actually produce results.

PAGE H2809
Feb. 25, 2009


The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak about the urgent need for the United States to begin direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program.

Time is of the essence. The United Nations reported last week that Iran has more enriched uranium than the world knew and is now capable of building an atomic bomb if it continues with its enrichment program. Iran also recently put a satellite into orbit showing that it has the ballistic missile capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon against an enemy.

The Iranians insist that their nuclear program is for peaceful domestic purposes only, but their nuclear program has raised fears in the Middle East and made that region an even more unstable and dangerous place.

Mr. Speaker, Iran’s advanced nuclear program shows that the Bush administration’s policy of refusing to talk was a dismal failure. It called Iran part of the “Axis of Evil.” Then for nearly 8 years the Bush administration’s approach consisted of saber-rattling and threats of war, and look where that’s gotten us. Absolutely nowhere.

As someone who strongly opposes nuclear proliferation, I urge that we launch a vigorous diplomatic effort aimed at getting Iran to behave more responsibly. We must begin that effort immediately before their nuclear program gets even more advanced. In the days ahead, we can look for every possible opening to begin face-to-face talks.

This diplomatic effort must include a strong partnership with the international community. The U.N. Security Council, for example, has demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program. So we must work with the members of the Council to put peaceful pressure on Iran to do just that.

I think that President Obama described the situation best last August when he said, “My job as President would be to try to make sure that we are tightening the screws diplomatically on Iran and that we have mobilized the world community to go after their program in a very serious way.”

So, Mr. Speaker, the President followed up on that, as we know, on his first day in office. In an interview with an Arabic language television station, he said, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.” This received a positive response from President Ahmadinejad, who said that Iran was ready for “talks based on mutual respect.” Who knows what he really meant, but I think we should take him up on this, call his bluff. Let’s test him to see if he was serious. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “We won’t know what we’re capable of achieving with Iran until we’re actually there working on it.”

Mr. Speaker, Iran is currently suffering from tough economic times, high inflation and international isolation. It is also threatening its people miserably. We could take advantage of Iran’s problems by offering incentives and help with their problems if they agree to pull the plug on their nuclear ambitions.

During the past administration, there was a great deal of talk about bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, but we all know that would have led us into another disastrous war in the Middle East, and thank heavens we did not do that. But refusing to engage with Iran hasn’t worked so far. It’s time for a new policy that stresses international cooperation, conflict resolution, and humanitarian assistance.

With President Obama’s leadership and willingness to talk and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s abilities, we can push the restart button, the restart button on our relations with Iran. We must now seize every single opportunity to do so because it appears time might be running out.

Posted By Patrick Disney

    One Response to “Woolsey delivers remarks on House floor: “Time to Talk to Iran””

  1. Mike says:

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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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